A number of staff from upmarket burger chain Byron have been arrested on immigration offences and are set to be deported.
Immigration enforcement officers carried out "intelligence-led visits" to a number of Byron restaurants on 4 July and removed 35 staff from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt in order to "progress their removal from the UK".
A spokesperson for the Home Office said that Byron had carried out the correct "right to work" checks on staff, but had been shown false or counterfeit documentation and therefore will not face civil penalty action.
"The operation was carried out with the full co-operation of the business."
However, the compliance of Byron in the operation to remove staff has led to a backlash on social media with the hastag #BoycottByron trending on Twitter.
Robbie Lockie @activismisnow, creative director of La Verita Studios, wrote: "They told their employees it'd be a training day, and they arrested them. Vile. #BoycottByron".
However, @Callis_Dean spoke up in support of Byron: "#boycottbyron what for? The workers supplied illegal papers, which could of cost the company £20,000 per worker. They should be rewarded!!".
A spokesperson for Byron confirmed that several of its restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office, resulting in the removal of staff who did not have the right to work in the UK and who were in possession of "fraudulent personal and right to work documentation" in breach of immigration and employment regulation.
"The Home Office recognises that Byron as an employer is fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices, and that Byron had carried out the correct ‘right to work' checks on staff members, but had been shown false/counterfeit documentation," said the spokesperson.
"At Byron we are proud of the diversity of our restaurant teams, built around people of all backgrounds and all walks of life.
"We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office's requests throughout the course of the investigations leading to this action, and will continue to do so."
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